How to Win the Pageant Swimsuit Competition

The swimsuit competition is the oldest event in pageants, with the first Miss America crowned the Most Beautiful Bathing Beauty in America in 1921.

The swimsuit competition has changed a lot since that era when contestants paraded down the beach in swim-dresses, wool bloomers, and knee socks (not kidding).  Or even the 1950’s when contestants in Miss America and Miss Universe pageants wore competition swimsuits featuring quaint “modesty panels” to conceal glimpses of what we now refer to as “camel-toe”.

Instead, today’s swimsuit competition reflects the fitness mania (complete with six pack abs, ladies), ultra-thin body fat levels, and figure-flattering fashions of the new high tech century.

This page is devoted to how to pick the right swimsuit to win the swimsuit competition:

How to Pick The Best Pageant Swimsuit | Pick the Right Pageant Swimsuit for Your Figure | Swimsuit Competition Tips: How to build a winning body | The Pageant Diet™… What to eat to get a winning swimsuit competition body

Swimsuit Competition

“A pageant swimsuit is not even close to a suit you would swim in. They have to be specially constructed for the stage.” — Cheryl Prewitt Salem, former Miss America, swimsuit winner and founder of C.P. Annie, a leading pageant swimwear manufacturer

Swimsuit Competition

What Judges Look For in the Pageant’s Swimsuit Competition

Miss World swimsuit competition in 2011

Miss World swimsuit competition in 2011 (Photo courtesy of Sandstorm Boutique).

The swimsuit competition differs from pageant to pageant in judging, swimsuit styles, and image. In pageants that emphasize beauty, like Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, Miss World, GuyRex’s Miss United States, and Mrs. America, swimsuit is a major category usually worth one-third of judging. Contestants often wear identical swimwear or bikinis provided by a sponsor, and the modeling style is casual.

In the more conservative scholarship/talent pageants, swimsuit competition is the least-important event. For example, the Miss America swimsuit competition counts for a mere 15 percent of scoring (talent and interview are worth twice that), contestants wear modest one-piece suits, and the modeling style is conservative.

The most recent trend in this competition is an increasing emphasis on fitness and athletics. The Miss America program has renamed the phase “Lifestyle and Fitness” and now includes “statement of physical fitness” as a judging criterion.

In some cases the swimsuit competition has evolved into an actual physical fitness event. In the U.S. International system, teen pageants contestants model in aerobic wear and sneakers, rather than swimwear, while America’s Junior Miss entrants perform an onstage aerobic fitness routine worth 15 percent of scoring.

“The athletic look is in,” affirms pageant swimsuit competition trainer Sharon Turrentine, “and I don’t think it’s going to change.”

Swimsuit Competition

Swimsuit Competition Judging

While swimsuit competitions differ significantly, judges usually consider some of the following qualities:

  • first impressions
  • beauty of face and figure
  • well-proportioned body
  • good muscle tone
  • proper level of body fat
  • statement of physical fitness and health
  • poise, posture, and carriage
  • graceful walk and modeling
  • confidence
  • proper fit of the swimsuit
  • overall presentation
  • energy and charisma
Miss Universe Yvonne Ryding in swimsuit competition

Miss Universe Yvonne Ryding demonstrates the type of beautiful, healthy body that wins the swimsuit competition in any system.

Judging instructions may use vague terms like “pleasing proportions” – but judges award their highest scores to women who are in top physical condition. “The contestant who gives you that quick positive picture when you see her coming toward you,” is what judges are instantly impressed by says Jeanne Swanner Robertson, a national pageant judge. “You don’t have time to say, ‘Triceps look good, biceps are doing okay.’ But the overall quick picture is the one that says, ‘This is a physically fit young woman.”’

In the swimsuit competition, a beautiful, healthy body in prime physical condition is a sure winner.

Obviously, in a pageant system where contestants are assigned identical style swimsuits, judges can evaluate contestants’ figures more easily than when contestants choose their own swimsuit styles and can try to conceal their figure flaws. For example, Christy Fichtner, Miss Texas USA, was so outstanding in the 1986 Miss USA Pageant swimsuit competition that she could have worn a potato sack and won.

Swimsuit Competition

Swimsuit Competition

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